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Jan 31, 2015 at 7.45pm UK at Stadio Olimpico
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Preview: Roma vs. Empoli

Sports Mole looks ahead to Saturday's Serie A meeting between Roma and Empoli.

If Roma are going to keep the title race alive in Serie A, Rudi Garcia's side need to avoid the below-par performances which have halted their progress in recent weeks.

Juventus were feeling the pressure at the top of the table when the league returned from the winter break, but Roma have allowed the champions to build a seven-point advantage.

That is largely due to three successive draws, and there will be no excuses this weekend if Roma fail to pick up all three points when Empoli visit the Italian capital.

Playing 24 hours earlier than Juventus, who take on Udinese on Sunday, could be an advantage for Garcia's men as they look to capitalise on playing a number of Serie A's struggling sides in the coming weeks.

Miralem Pjanic is pushing to start once again, and it could be Alessandro Florenzi who misses out on a place in the trio behind Juan Iturbe, who is expected to lead the attack once again.

Roma will also begin life without Mattia Destro, who is believed to be on the verge of completing a move to AC Milan.

The meeting between the two sides comes less than a fortnight after Roma recorded a 2-1 win over Empoli in the Coppa Italia, with Daniele de Rossi scoring the crucial penalty in extra time on that evening.

Empoli head into the match severely lacking in confidence following a run of eight matches without a win in Serie A, and a wait for over two months without a victory has left them just one point above the relegation zone.

Maurizio Sarri will be forced into one change as the injured Lorenzo Tonelli is unlikely to prove his fitness in time to return, which could allow Matteo Bianchetti to take his place in defence.


Form in Serie A: WDWDDD
Form in all competitions: DWDDWD

Possible starting lineup: De Sanctis, Holebas, Yanga-Mbiwa, Manolas, De Rossi, Strootman, Nainggolan, Pjanic, Ljajic, Totti, Iturbe


Form in Serie A: DDDLDL
Form in all competitions: DDLDLL

Possible starting lineup: Sepe, Rui, Bianchetti, Hysaj, Rugani, Croce, Valdifiori, Vecino, Saponara, Mchedlidze, Pucciarelli

Sports Mole says: 2-0

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Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa in action for Roma on December 10, 2014
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Result: De Rossi penalty sees Roma past Empoli

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